HMAS Flinders (GS 312)

HMAS Flinders (GS 312/A 312), named for Matthew Flinders (1774–1814), was a hydrographic survey ship of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Built by HMA Naval Dockyard at Williamstown, Victoria, Flinders was commissioned into the RAN in 1973, and was used to conduct hydrographic surveys in the waters to Australia's north, including parts of New Guinea. In 1974, the ship was tasked with assisting clean up efforts in the wake of Cyclone Tracy, which devastated large parts of Darwin. The ship was decommissioned in 1998 and sold to civilian operators, who have since converted her into a private yacht in the Cayman Islands.

Namesake: Matthew Flinders
Builder: HMA Naval Dockyard, Williamstown
Laid down: February 1971
Launched: 29 July 1972
Commissioned: 27 April 1973
Decommissioned: 1998
Fate: Sold into civilian service
General characteristics
Type: Hydrographic survey ship
Displacement: 740 tons full load
Length: 161 feet (49 m) length overall
Beam: 33 feet (10 m)
Draught: 12 feet (3.7 m)
  • 2 × Paxman Ventura diesels
  • 2 screws
Speed: 13.5 knots (25.0 km/h; 15.5 mph)
Range: 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km; 5,800 mi) at 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph)

Construction and design

The ship was ordered in 1970 to replace the light survey vessel HMAS Paluma.[1] Flinders was 161 feet (49 m) in length overall, with a beam of 33 feet (10 m), a draught of 12 feet (3.7 m), and a full load displacement of 740 tons.[2] Propulsion was provided by two Paxman Ventura diesel motors connected to twin screws, providing a top speed of 13.5 knots (25.0 km/h; 15.5 mph) and a range of 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km; 5,800 mi) at 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph).[2] The hull was all-welded, and designed to Australian Shipping Board standards for coastal operations.[3] Increased seakeeping ability was imparted through a bulbous bow, high forecastle, and a stabilising system.[2] Most operations were intended to be in the waters of Australia and Papua New Guinea, although Flinders was also capable of limited oceanographic work.[1] The ship's company consisted of 38 personnel, and Flinders carried light-calibre weapons for self-defence.[2]

Flinders was laid down by HMA Naval Dockyard at Williamstown, Victoria, in February 1971.[2][4] She was launched on 29 July 1972 and commissioned into the RAN on 27 April 1973.[2][4] The ship cost $2,600,000.[5]

Operational history

On commissioning, the ship was based in Cairns,[2] and afterwards was used to undertake hydrographic surveys to Australia's north.[5] Following the destruction of Darwin by Cyclone Tracy during the night of 24–25 December 1974, Flinders was deployed as part of the relief effort; Operation Navy Help Darwin.[6] She sailed from Cairns on 26 December, and as the first ship to arrive, Flinders was tasked with surveying the harbour to work out the position of wrecks and the safest areas for the other RAN ships to anchor.[6] The majority of Flinders' survey work was undertaken off the Queensland coast, but in 1976 she undertook operations in the Dampier Strait, in New Guinea waters.[5] From 1980 to 1983, she was commanded by a real-life RAN officer called James Bond, and operated off the coasts of Queensland and Papua New Guinea.[7]

Flinders was decommissioned in 1998.[8] In October 1999, the ship was sold at auction for A$518,460 to a New Zealand consortium.[9] She was remodelled into a private yacht, and now operates as MY Plan B, registered in the Cayman Islands.[10]


  1. Gillett, Australian and New Zealand Warships Since 1946, p. 101
  2. Gillett, Australian and New Zealand Warships Since 1946, p. 102
  3. Gillett, Australian and New Zealand Warships Since 1946, pp. 101–2
  4. Bastock, Australia's Ships of War, p. 393
  5. Gillett & Graham, Warships of Australia, p. 274.
  6. "Disaster Relief — Cyclone Tracy and Tasman Bridge". Semaphore. Sea Power Centre. 2004 (14). December 2004. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  8. "New Ships Make History". Media Release. Department of Defence. 25 May 2000. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  9. Collings, Jon (19 June 2002), "Submission 18: Department of Defence" (PDF), in Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (ed.), Review of the Accrual Budget Documentation (Report), Government of Australia, retrieved 20 January 2014
  10. "Plan B". Super Yacht Times. Retrieved 7 February 2014.


  • Bastock, John (1975). Australia's Ships of War. Cremorne, NSW: Angus and Robertson. ISBN 0207129274. OCLC 2525523.
  • Gillett, Ross (1988). Australian and New Zealand Warships Since 1946. Brookvale, NSW: Child & Associates. ISBN 0867772190. OCLC 23470364.
  • Gillett, Ross; Graham, Colin (1977). Warships of Australia. Adelaide, South Australia: Rigby. ISBN 0-7270-0472-7.
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